In her Book ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown asked a question that has stuck with me, ‘Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?’ Pondering this question has caused me to reflect on my actions and the way my children might perceive them, and perhaps one day, imitate them. I deeply desire to see my children flourish and my love for my children motivates me to provide for them, to demonstrate my love in tangible ways, and sometimes where necessary to rebuke and refocus them.
Paul has just spent significant time correcting and rebuking the Corinthian church, yet he demonstrates that love for them and God is his motive. Paul planted the church in Corinth, and therefore speaks of a parental love for the church, as a father over his children. His desire isn’t to shame them, which in a culture driven by honour and shame is significant; rather he urges them to imitate him, to learn from watching his life and speech. He sends Timothy for precisely this purpose, that they may be reminded of the ‘way of life’ in Christ Jesus. He wants the Corinthian church to learn from Timothy in order that they would change the way they are living as the people of God.
When reading passages on topical issues, like this in 1 Corinthians the temptation is to turn them into weapons, judge one another and condemn behaviours we see in others. Yet that is not what Paul does. He doesn’t shy away from calling out sin, but his intention is to bring life not condemnation; Paul wants to see the people of God live life in a way that honours God thereby showing themselves to be his Kingdom people.
As we reflect on this passage today, is our engagement with one another based and driven by the same love for one another that Paul demonstrates? Do we have the courage to, in love, call out sin where necessary while we actively walk alongside people to model the way of Christ? Do we look to appropriate Christian ‘mothers & fathers’ to model our life on, or do we look up to leaders who demonstrate the world’s standards? Let us be a humble people willing to imitate those whose life and teaching demonstrate Christ.